This is a two-piece poem of the same situation from the viewpoint of a patient and his doctor.
There’s not a single feature of this wall I haven’t noticed:
the tattered, ashen square that frames a printout of a lotus,
the crack that creeps across the beige that seems to have a purpose,
finding respite in the corner, only to resurface.
Am I that tattered frame that’s slightly slanted to the right,
slowly losing color as the product of some fight?
I wonder how my pallor seems to those naive of my disease:
“There goes that walking skeleton, with thinning hair and shaking knees.”
But maybe this is not the case, and I’m the crack instead:
turning, twisting – pausing –yet still aiming straight ahead.
To those who watch with bated breath, I may seem weak and faded, yes,
but still I’m here, and still I push until I stop to lay and rest.
At first I never saw this wall, blinded by my hopelessness.
How could they expect a 23-year-old to cope with this?
I found it best to wear a mask that painted me an optimist,
stiffening my spine to fight the fact I felt the opposite.
At night I tucked my mask away and shed the plastic masquerade,
thinking of the relatives who shared my fate and passed away.
And soon the shroud could not withstand and quickly fell apart,
whittled by the worries of a lonely, frightened heart.
It’s said if you sink low enough, you’ll find an inner strength,
but what I found was not within but rather at arm’s length.
Once I learned to turn my gaze upon the face opposing me,
I found a source of strength and love, supporting me emotionally.
On days of pain, when I’m too weak to stand up on my own,
she tightly grabs my hand and says, “my love, you’re not alone.”
Her wary way of shyly smiling binds me to the ground,
it holds my weight despite the force that tries to blow me down.
There’s not a single feature of her face I do not know:
the rosy lips that sit beneath her tiny, button nose,
the eyes that change their bluish hue depending on her mood,
inviting me to open up and feel her warmth imbued.
There is a man who has a family, a house he calls a home,
a quaintly-colored castle with a leather, cushioned throne.
A man who saves the messages from others on his phone,
to smile at the ones he later visits on his own.
A scribble-ridden calendar, a life reduced to dates,
a page too marked with red and blue to warrant any space.
A man who understands that for every given case,
a piece of mind is set aside, solidified in place.
A gait without distraction, a walk that doesn’t sway,
a pace that never stops to pause or find a slight delay.
A man who stands to give support like lacquered, hardened clay,
molded to each patient, changing shape whichever way.
A book that’s filled with chicken scrawl, a recipe of thoughts,
analysis of findings in a well-constructed plot.
A man who pours his mind into a bounded, paper lot,
to clear the tangled web disease can weave and leave to rot.
A heart with many cabinets, a vessel full of drawers,
Layered with resolve, with love and hope laid at the core.
A man who fuels his fire from the ones who fight their war,
and uses it to give them every chance for something more.